Shark Dialogues

Shark Dialogues

3.7 18
by Kiana Davenport

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A sprawling but compelling first novel, Davenport's gargantuan family epic centers on the awe-inspiring Hawaiian matriarch Pono, a prophet gifted with magic powers, and her four estranged, mixed-marriage granddaughters. The book begins in 1834 with Pono's forebears, a shipwrecked Yankee sailor who had resorted to cannibalism, and a runaway Tahitian princess, and covers large chunks of Hawaiian history before ending up on a present-day island coffee plantation. Using flashbacks and detours, the novel chronicles how granddaughters Ming, Vanya, Rachel and Jess reclaim their heritage and achieve reconciliations with Pono, who terrifies them--she can metamorphose into a sea creature and live for days in the ocean--but commands their love and respect. Pono periodically goes on unexplained voyages to visit the girls' grandfather, Duke, a leper deeply ashamed of his putrefying limbs. A digression describes the history of the disease and treatment of its victims. Other sections evoke life on a 19th-century whaler, and offer a history of Hawaii's labor-union movement, the story of a drug-addicted Vietnam vet and cameo appearances of such real-life figures as Queen Lil'uokalani and F.D.R. Between wars, plagues, uprisings and earthquakes the book has a surfeit of events, but for the most part Davenport juggles the elements admirably as she moves from Hawaiian rain forests to downtown Manhattan, slipping easily from the fantastic to the actual. Breathtaking images studded throughout the densely poetic descriptive passages more than compensate for the occasional clumsy effort at stream-of-consciousness writing. Author tour. (May)
Library Journal
This expansive and engrossing multigenerational saga details the history of Hawaii through the experiences of one family. It begins in the 19th century with the dramatic meeting of a young Yankee sailor and a beautiful Tahitian princess. Their descendants, who live in contemporary Hawaii, are four cousins named Vanya, Ming, Rachel, and Jess who have been brought up by Pono, a kahuna, or seer, who has never talked about her mysterious past to her four granddaughters. Davenport deftly includes much information in the narrative--about politics, leprosy, and the racial melting pot that is Hawaiian society--with a minimum of didacticism. She incorporates folklore, history, and myth in a vivid, lush prose style that only occasionally becomes overwrought. This first novel is much better written than James Michener's Hawaii (1959) and brings Hawaiian history up to the present day. Entertaining and educational, it is an excellent purchase for public libraries of any size. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/94.-- Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr . for the Book, Seattle

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 8.95(h) x 1.12(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Shark Dialogues 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, a little dreamy. I felt like I knew so much more about the island and its history even though I was reading it in New Jersey. The family relationships are great, I could relate to the story line. It was a lengthy book but, I loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is hands down the best book I have ever read. It combines history with a great story that kept me interested the whole way through! Kiana Davernport is a very creative and descriptive writer and I simply loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think I read this book when I was a teenager. I liked the book because of the history the book presents as the story unfolds. Seeing it hear brought a smile to my face.
megarchtho More than 1 year ago
wonderful story full of history
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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SJHI More than 1 year ago
From its opening pages until its dramatic conclusion this novel wouldn't let me put it down until I'd finished it. The clarity with which Davenport writes unfolds the locale and the people in a way not many authors can capture. She includes three glossaries at the end so unfamiliar words can be easily understood by the reader. I highly recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great fantasy/history book of Hawaii - and the negative impact outsiders had when they settled in the islands. Loved the first 3/4 of the book - the last 1/4 dragged a bit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An inspiring epic. I learned so much. It's the kind of book you can read several times and still get something new from it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is possibly one of the best books I have ever read.I love the how the saga interweaves the generations together.It to be enjoyed like sipping a hot chocolate slowly savoring the texture and the flavor. I think it is a excelent read for anyone interested in Hawaii culture & history as well as a very intresting family saga.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Long winded and meandering. The book could have been a third the size and have told the story adequately. It's an interesting story but it bogs down in too many places to keep an interest going.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
shmengee More than 1 year ago
This is the worst book I have ever read. The characters were very hateful towards white people and they were just unlikeable people in general. The book also contains overly descriptive sexual content--I couldn't believe some of the things said and I usually prefer that writers leave that stuff out. The book is also longer than it needs to be; it drags on and on, even though there is hardly a plot at all.